With the way the critters have taken up residence in many parts of Harford County in recent years, you may have noticed an increase in deer activity either on your property or on the area roadways. But this time of year, however, is the beginning of the most dangerous time of the year for the bad combination of drivers and deer.
As white-tail deer mating season and colder months approach, officials from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said motorists should take precautions and be on the lookout for deer while driving.
Pete Jayne, associate director of game management for DNR, said deer are more active this time of year because of the rut, deer breeding season, and colder temperatures are causing deer to feed more frequently.
Jayne said mating season begins mid-October and peaks in the first two weeks of November. He said historically November is the highest peak of deer-related car crashes during the year.
"Deer are naturally more active during periods of low light: in the late evening and early morning," Jayne said. "These are the times to be particularly alert for deer."
Jayne said motorists should take heed to deer crossing signs as they travel on roadways to avoid contact with deer. He said drivers should use their peripheral vision to scan the shoulder lanes for glowing eyes since typically deer's eyes reflect light from vehicle headlights.
Officials at the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) said you should never veer for deer.
"Collisions with deer are not always avoidable, but there are steps drivers can take to reduce the chance of a deer strike," SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters said in a statement. "For your own safety and that of other drivers, never veer for deer. We see crashes where drivers lose control and vehicles have gone off the road, often severely injuring the passengers."
Jayne said if you are coming in contact with a deer, a driver may lift their foot off the brake so the vehicle rises up.
"You don't want to run the deer into your windshield," Jayne said. "Most driver injuries and deaths come from a deer running into the windshield."
Officials from the SHA caution people against approaching an injured animal. Instead, the driver should turn on their hazard lights, safely pull to the side of the road and call police. Deer typically travel in herds, so if you see one deer, be on the lookout for the rest of them.
Marylanders experience about 30,000 deer-related crashes annually, Jayne said. According to statistics gathered from State Farm Insurance, in 2012 Maryland ranked 14th in the nation for deer-related crashes.